So how do we stack up against all of the personal IVF experiences that are able to accessed with a very simple Google search? Let’s face it, we are a couple who are just more likely to understand the process of IVF together than almost any other couple. I have practiced in the area of fertility and IVF treatment for 20 years and Sonya has for a decade. We have seen doublings in pregnancy rates with new technology, we have practiced as techniques have become redundant and new ones emerged. And neither of us ever thought we would need IVF.
We were soooo wrong. We fell in love with each other at first sight, yes really. Very quickly we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and despite the fact we had kids in other relationships, a child together just seemed appropriate. It shouldn’t be too hard, should it?
So we followed the rules, six months “trying”, but in the back of my mind was that I really did want a baby with Sonya. Our chances were low because of our ages, quite low, and we knew that if we really wanted a baby together, it was IVF or nothing. So off we went to IVF.
Obviously we had pretty firm ideas about how we wanted the medical side to go and these were presented nicely, but forcefully. At this time, Sonya was living in Brisbane, I was living in Sydney. Half a week a fortnight we were together when Sonya came to Sydney and half a week a fortnight we were together when I went to Brisbane. We spent a lot of time apart, on the phone and in planes!
Because of our living circumstances, treatment became more difficult. Sonya had to catch planes at random for egg collections and transfers. Our work and patients needed to be re-arranged at short notice. And Sonya had an interesting amount of side effects, even from the low dose treatment. She argued a lot, and only with me it seemed (although I suspect she really felt alone a lot given what we were both doing and that made it even harder).
And the frustration. We really wanted a baby! Even given our experience in the area, the same types of questions arose for us, that our patients ask as they undertake treatment. “Why are my follicles growing so slowly?” “Should I be getting a higher dose of FSH.” “There is fluid in the lining of the uterus, it will stop me from getting pregnant.” “There is no point using Day 6 embryos.” I felt useless. I had to watch. The correct and realistic information had no effect in helping Sonya feel better. I struggled to understand worrying about things that weren’t true, didn’t matter or things we had no control over. So we talked about this. Sonya told me I was wrong. And then we didn’t get pregnant. And then we didn’t get pregnant again. And it was obvious that there was “no point doing this anymore because it’s never going to work”.
We found it was really important for us to talk about what we were doing. It became obvious that my role was to be the optimist, to re-focus us on our path, to remind us both what we wanted and to listen to and acknowledge Sonya’s concerns. And so we went again. And this time we had the right egg, and the pregnancy test result we were hoping for! And now we have Sam, and it really was worth it. It really was.
What has the experience shown me? I am so grateful that this technology is available. The whole process challenges our patience, our expectations. Without undergoing IVF treatment, we both know that our son would definitively not be here today without it. And it was worth it.